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category dublin | education | news report author Wednesday November 10, 2010 09:42author by Aileenauthor email colin.coulter at may dot ie Report this post to the editors

Members of the NUIM IFUT Branch Committee sent the letter below to NUI Maynooth Student Union President congratulating the students on demonstrating in defense of Irish education and expressing grave concern at Garda actions on the Wednesday November the 3rd.

Letter to NUI Maynooth Student Union from members of the NUIM IFUT Branch Committee

November 9th 2010

Dear Aengus,

We are writing to you in order to express our solidarity with Maynooth students in the aftermath of the events of Wednesday last, November 3rd. The national student demonstration against fees in Dublin was a genuinely impressive and heartening occasion. Tens of thousands of students were successfully mobilised in opposition to one of the many pernicious policies being assembled by this discredited government. The response from the student body in Maynooth was particularly impressive. We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Students’ Union on all the hard work that went into ensuring that Maynooth students were such a noticeable presence on the demonstration. As both academics and trade unionists, we share with the student movement a profound concern about the direction of government policy in the university sector. In particular, we would echo your misgivings about the impact of increased fees on students from less affluent backgrounds.

While some aspects of the national demonstration offered grounds for optimism, others were more unsettling. In particular, we would like to express our profound concern at the manner in which the Gardai conducted themselves during the events that unfolded at the Department of Finance. Those of us who were present witnessed first-hand a response to the demonstration on the part of the police that was excessive, indiscriminate and downright dangerous. The violence that the Gardai directed at demonstrators in the vicinity of the Department of Finance deserves to be loudly and explicitly condemned by those who hold office within the national student movement. Given that many of the demonstrators outside the Department of Finance were verbally and, more importantly, physically assaulted by police officers, it might reasonably have been expected that the conduct of the Gardai would have been condemned by the President of the Unions of Students in Ireland. Rather than criticise the actions of those who attacked the student demonstrators, the President of USI chose instead to condemn those of his own members who had attempted to occupy the Department of Finance. In our view, his comments on Wednesday last represent a shameful betrayal of those whom he was elected to serve and represent.

In sum, we wish to congratulate the Maynooth Students’ Union on its magnificent mobilisation in support of the national demonstration and to extend our solidarity to those students who were injured in the attempted occupation of the Department of Finance. We appreciate your efforts to generate better relations with the other unions on campus and hope that we will continue to work well with one another in the future.

With Best Wishes,

Dr Colin Coulter, Department of Sociology, Vice Chairperson of the Maynooth branch of IFUT
Dr Colmán Etchingham, Department of History, Chairperson of the Maynooth branch of IFUT

Professor Joe Cleary, Department of English
Dr Brid Connolly, Department of Adult and Community Education
Dr Aileen O’Carroll, Irish Qualitative Data Archive
Dr Éamon Ó Ciosáin, Department of French
Dr Gavan Titley, Department of Media Studies
(Members of the Maynooth Branch Committee of IFUT)

author by Dr Laurence Cox - Dept. of Sociology, NUI Maynoothpublication date Wed Nov 10, 2010 12:44Report this post to the editors

Just a note in support of this letter.

Related Link: http://www.indymedia.ie/article/98084
author by John Dowdallpublication date Wed Nov 10, 2010 22:48Report this post to the editors

Thank you to all the academic staff who have the good grace to support a group of NUI Maynooth students who held a peaceful demonstration at Merrion Row on 3/11/2010. The Gardaí used brutally oppressive tactics and injured a number of students and political activists. It is very important that the truth of this disgraceful civil rights violation is brought to light. I was at Merrion Row on the day and seen the whole thing unfold. I was knocked down and winded but escaped without any serious injury. There were many abuses carried out during the police operation including the use of attack dogs on sit down protesters, overzealous use of the baton and charging of police lines and police horses on young students who were peacefully protesting. Also, students at NUI Maynooth will be taking part in protests on Budget Day, so your continuing support would be very welcome.

Sincerest Regards,
John Dowdall

author by Dr. Paula Gilligan - TUI Branch member IADT publication date Thu Nov 11, 2010 00:26Report this post to the editors

Well done to the students for the focus on free education for all in their campaign.
It is interesting to read the well-informed comments and interviews by student spokespeople, and I am glad to see that the issue is broader than the issue of fees.
If you are seriously committed to the principle of free education for everyone, it is important to start protesting not just about what is happening at third level, but in the 2nd level and primary schools. The Third Level students need to involve the 2nd level in the protests, as in France.
O’Keefe’s 2008 measure-for which he was rewarded with his present post and iron gent status- introduced savage cuts to primary school children-the damage done to poorer children by cuts to the free book scheme, the axing of resource teachers, special needs assistants, the increase in class sizes, will be felt for generations. He has done huge damage to the 2nd level too, where inequality between private and public education is growing apace.
In the 3rd level the biggest threat is to the undergrad teaching budget-the casualisation of labour in the context of front-line teaching will be a real consequence of Croke Park-these cuts will force reliance on shockingly badly paid (mostly new) lecturing staff, who will have no rights and no security-this ‘flexicurity’ will return us to old style input-output models, as the high turnover and lack of commitment to staff, results in abandonment of innovative teaching (which requires teamwork and planning) in favour of content delivery. The current Government's education policies will put Ireland in a new place of ignorance-anyone who is at all conscious of what is really going on, and anyone with any kind of moral feeling for other people, will find it hard to look on without acting -Mairg nach fuil ‘na Dhubhthuata….

author by Gearoidpublication date Fri Nov 12, 2010 16:25Report this post to the editors

I endorse Dr. Gilligan's point that "the Third Level students need to involve the 2nd level in the protests, as in France.” As an Irish national living and working in France, I recently witnessed first hand the involvement of 2nd level students in the recent protests against the retirement age increase. It was inspiring to see how they organised themselves and their protests. In my city, the main school was blocked for days. In one particular protest, the 2nd level students blocked the main bus station (depot) at 7.00am. After an hour the police moved in with a heavy hand and removed the students. When the bus drivers saw the police's actions towards the students, they then went on strike for half a day - not in support of the retirement age protest, but at the actions of the police towards the students. i.e. They sent a strong message to the police - Do that again and the city won't have a bus in service.

It’s also interesting to observe how the young students are encouraged to protest by their teachers, parents and the wider public, while the opposite is often the case in Ireland.

It is indeed time to encourage, support and involve the 2nd level students in these protests.

author by opus diablos - the regressive hypocrite partypublication date Fri Nov 12, 2010 16:50Report this post to the editors

These are the kids whose futures have been pawned so the fat cats can tighten their belts; round their throats.
The only other way they know how to tighten their belts is by having another truffle and caviar sambo. When the Dail is reduced to a kindergarten its time to engage the smarter kids in the running of THEIR country. They need to make it clear that they never signed a bail bond for Fingers and Fitz and guaranteed it with their right to a livelihood.

author by 1 of FEEpublication date Sat Nov 13, 2010 11:01Report this post to the editors

Ferdinand von Prondzynski has criticised NUIM academics for issuing this letter over on his blog - http://universitydiary.wordpress.com/2010/11/13/an-acad...test/

Related Link: http://free-education.info
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